The Nats Bullpen - Top 5 Lists Galore

The bullpen keeps games interesting, doesn't it?  Every member of the Nationals' bullpen has struggled at times this season, and yet they do usually get the job done.  I decided to take an in depth look at who the Nats best relief pitchers really are deep down in their stats, and decided to share some of my journey through a plethora of top 5 lists with light commentary.  Enjoy, if stats are your thing.

A few comments: These stats run through June 6, the first game vs the Giants.

I left two pitchers out of the rankings - Craig Stammen and Colin Balester - because of ESSS (extremely small sample size).  So, in the following rankings you will see the top five out of nine relief pitchers in each list.

Henry Rodriguez
Cole Kimball 2.03
Tyler Clippard 2.08
Doug Slaten 2.19
Todd Coffey 2.38


Remember, ERA and any other stat with Doug Slaten in the top five should be used very judiciously.

Todd Coffey 2.54
Henry Rodriguez 2.57
Drew Storen
Tyler Clippard 3.34
Brian Broderick


FIP, designed to bump the Doug Slatens of this world off the leaderboards.

Tyler Clippard 2.89
Drew Storen
Todd Coffey 3.23
Henry Rodriguez 3.55
Sean Burnett


xFIP normalizes home run percentages, which has been Clippard's weakness.  If you remember only one top 5 list, remember this one.

Tyler Clippard 0.92
Drew Storen
Todd Coffey 1.01
Sean Burnett


Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched.  These guys know how to limit baserunners.

Henry Rodriguez
Tyler Clippard 10.90
Chad Gaudin
Todd Coffey
Drew Storen


Gaudin makes his first appearance.  There was some reason he stuck around for a while, after all.

Brian Broderick 2.19
Drew Storen 2.37
Sean Burnett 2.49
Tyler Clippard 2.86
Todd Coffey 3.18


Do you miss Broderick?  Walks are one reason why you could if you wanted to.

Brian Broderick 0.00
Cole Kimball 0.00
Henry Rodriguez 0.00
Todd Coffey 0.40
Sean Burnett 0.42


Lots of Nats have successfully avoided the long ball.  Nothing kills a relief outing like one of those.

Tyler Clippard 3.7
Drew Storen 4.0
Todd Coffey 4.1
Cole Kimball 4.2
Sean Burnett 4.2


Total Batters Faced / Innings pitched.  This is another way to look at pitcher's ability to minimize baserunners.


Henry Rodriguez 1.5%
Sean Burnett 3.3%
Cole Kimball 3.6%
Brian Broderick 5.3%
Drew Storen 6.6%


Extra Base Hit Percentage.  League Average is 7.1%. Make them play small ball!

Todd Coffey .549
Henry Rodriguez .553
Drew Storen .564
Cole Kimball .584
Tyler Clippard .590


League Average OPS against is .709.  For reference, Slaten sports a 1.049 OPS against.

Todd Coffey 1-15
Chad Gaudin 1-7
Tyler Clippard 6-30
Drew Storen 2-9
Henry Rodriguez 1-2


Inherited Runners Scored Percentage.  Slaten (15-30) has the same percentage as Rodriguez, but doesn't deserve to be on this top 5 list.  (For those wondering, Coffey is at 7%, Gaudin at 14%, Clip at 20 %, Storen at 22%.  League Average is 31%)

Brian Broderick 3.33
Doug Slaten 3.38
Drew Storen 3.61
Sean Burnett 3.75
Todd Coffey 3.99


Pitches per Plate Appearance.  These guys mow through the opposition efficiently.  Except in Slaten's case, the opposition mows through him.

Henry Rodriguez 62%
Tyler Clippard 65%
Todd Coffey 73%
Doug Slaten 74%
Kimball/Storen 78%


Contact Percentage (Percentage of strikes thrown that a batter connects with - foul or in play).  League Average is 79%.  These guys' strikes are hard to hit.  Gotta love a strike swinging!

Henry Rodriguez 36%
Drew Storen 35%
Tyler Clippard 31%
Cole Kimball 28%
Sean Burnett 23%


0-2 Counts / PA.  League Average is 23%.  These guys challenge hitters.

Tyler Clippard 1.1
Drew Storen 0.6
Henry Rodriguez 0.5
Todd Coffey 0.3
Cole Kimball 0.3


Value Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference.

Drew Storen 0.5
Todd Coffey 0.4
Tyler Clippard 0.4
Henry Rodriguez 0.2
Burnett/Broderick 0.1


Value above Replacement according to Fangraphs.  Yup, that Rule 5 guy is trying to sneak in there.

Tyler Clippard .225
Todd Coffey .233
Drew Storen .235
Cole Kimball .235
Sean Burnett .275
Henry Rodriguez .306
Brian Broderick .333
Doug Slaten .372
Chad Gaudin .423


Luck.  Can players influence this?  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Gaudin and Slaten were not suffering from bad luck.  They just stunk.  Everyone else is having a good year so far, with only Rodriguez above the league average of .295.


So, who comes out looking good overall?

Well, ignoring the WAR and BABIP charts, there were fourteen top 5 lists.  Storen and Coffey made 12 of them.  Clippard and Rodriguez made 11 each.  Kimball & Burnett at 8 each.

If I weight by position (#1 = 5 pts, #2 = 4 pts, etc) then Rodriguez comes out on top with 41 points, with Clippard at 37 and Storen and Coffey each with 34 points.  Then Kimball at 19.

The Nationals bullpen is anchored by four men: Tyler "Peaches" Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Henry "Lightning" Rodriguez.  No one of them is heads and shoulders above the rest.  Each has his strengths and his weaknesses.  Each has his fun quirks, and each is fun to watch.

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